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Art Diary

Brilliant Exiles: American Women in Paris, 1900–1939

19 April 2024

From the turn of the 20th century to the beginning of the Second World War, many American women were drawn to Paris – the centre of artistic modernity – in the pursuit of personal and creative freedom. Exercising their newfound independence, these voluntary ‘exiles’ made significant contributions to Parisian culture during this time, in art, music, literature, theatre and fashion. The National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C. focuses on some 65 of these adventurous women, with notable names including Gertrude Stein, Josephine Baker and Peggy Guggenheim (26 April–23 February 2025). Through a mixture of biography and portraiture, it shows how they helped open up a world of opportunities for women, pushing past the boundaries that restrained them at home. Find out more from the National Portrait Gallery’s website. 

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Gertrude Stein (c. 1905–06), Pablo Picasso. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Photo: © Metropolitan Museum of Art/Art Resource, NY; © 2023 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Peggy Guggenheim, August 1926 (1926), Alfred Courmes. Musée franco-américain du château de Blérancourt. Photo: Gérard Blot; © RMN-Grand Palais/Art Resource, NY/2023 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris

In Exaltation of Flowers: Rose – Geranium (Katharine Rhoades) (c. 1910–13), Edward Steichen. Art Bridges Foundation, Bentonville. © 2023 The Estate of Edward Steichen/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York